My name is Beth Newell and I hold a degree in Dance from York University and a Masters Degree in Counselling Psychology. I have been working as a Registered Counselling Therapist (RCT) since 2001.
Twenty five years ago I performed on bungees in a show with the Caravan Stage Company. We did our own rigging and the harnesses were fairly primitive but we had so much fun that I said to myself, “One day I will have an aerial dance studio!”. But you need a lot of space to move around in bungees and so the dream lay dormant all those twenty five years. Meanwhile other dancers were experiencing aerial dance and loving it and soon it was being incorporated into shows everywhere, most notably in the Cirque D’ Soleil.
One day in church while singing a hymn about ‘lifting people up’ the idea came to me to lift people with disabilities up into the air where they could experience more freedom of movement.
So started The Flying Project. I spoke to Good Shepherd Church in Lawrencetown and they agreed to become the home of the project under conditions that it be safe, be insured and be free to all.
I then contacted Karen Fuhrman of Grounded Aerial Dance in New York as she was teaching aerial movement workshops and I had a lot to learn. When Karen heard about The Flying Pro-ject’s mandate to put people with physical disabilities into the air, she was very excited and wanted to be involved in this new endeavour. She came and trained myself and seven volunteers focusing on safety, rigging and movement in the air. Karen is a beautiful artist and gifted teacher and inspired us tremendously. We have greatly benefited from her knowledge and advice.
We dedicated The Flying Project to the memory of Sara Drohan, daughter of volunteer Eileen, who loved to dance though in a wheelchair. We know there are many like Sara who will be so delighted to feel the freedom of movement in the air.
Since everything has had to be learned ‘from the ground up’, the journey to get The Flying Project ‘off the ground’ has been transpiring over a few years. We received money to purchase sport insurance through a Community Development Grant and the South Eastern Community Health Board gave The Flying Project a Wellness Fund Grant to purchase a 20 ft. aerial rig which will allow one person at a time to experience moving in the air. Eventually I hope to put three or more aerial supports (a design donated by the BMR Structural Engineering firm in Halifax) into the roof trusses of the church so that more than one person can participate at a time. In the future we will be able to choreograph an aerial show with dancers on the ground and in the air with lights and multi media effects.
Beth Newell can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Meet the volunteers
I am retired and have the time to help support the project by setting up and taking down the aerial rig and by generally being there at every session. I love serving the community and seeing people enjoy this new activity. Chris Friis
I am a grade 12 student and will start my bachelor of Sport and Recreation studies at UNB this September. In my spare time I am a coach for my local soccer club and for Special Olympics. In The Flying Project I help set up the rig and help participants feel comfortable in the bungees. Dean Wesley
I am a math professor and dancer and know how important movement is to express oneself, to feel good and to stay healthy. I like to help each person explore their personal movement vocabulary and express their unique ways of moving. I have seen how often this allows people to move into their lives in new ways. Dorette Pronk
I became interested in The Flying Project because I believe in dreams. In The Flying Project I can envision an opportunity for people to soar! I learned to embrace such visions because I had a wonderful teacher, my daughter Sara, who never stopped reaching for her dreams. Eileen Hartigan-Drohan
I was an active participant in the first training a couple of years ago which set the ground work for The Flying Project. It has now become a reality after so much work to get things right with professional input and consultation. The success of positive experiences with participants and built in safety features show this project has so much potential as part of a bigger move in supporting and opening up availability of aerial bungee as seen in adapted surfing and rock climbing. Susan Cakmak
I am currently studying at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition. My passions include music, visual and dance arts. I read an article about The Flying Project in the Eastern Shore Cooperator which birthed the desire to be involved as a volunteer. This pioneering work has been inspiring and humbling. I like growing in the way of creativity within safety protocols for each person and type of challenge. Aline Babineau-Mercereau